Natural Breast Cancer Support
Welcome to Part 2 of our blog on Natural Breast Cancer Support. The first part of our blog last week talked about conventional cancer treatments while these recommendations are complementary and can be used at the same time as conventional cancer treatments. These lifestyle, dietary, supplemental and herbal changes all have a solid evidence base behind them. All recommendations are general and for specific health advice make an appointment with me or your GP.
Intravenous Vitamin C has been found to reduce nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, depression, sleep disorders & dizziness. This is based on a study of 125 breast cancer patients given 7.5 g intravenously once a week while having chemo or radiotherapies. It was not given on the days that chemo or radio was administered. Enquire at the clinic about this treatment.
The Mushroom Coriolus versicolor (Trametes) has been studied in over 31 randomised controlled trials involving more than 9600 people with different types of cancer but when it is used alongside chemo the 10 year survival rate in patients with breast cancer is astounding at almost double!
Fish Oils in particular DHA a type of Omega 3 oil particularly found in sea algae given in a fairly large dose of 9 x 200mg capsules a day which was started 10 days before for 5 months concurrently but not on the same day as chemotherapy.
The nutrients/herbs that have been found to increase the effectiveness of certain types of chemotherapy while reducing side effects include Co-enzyme Q10, Melatonin (more about that later), L-Carnitine, Withania somnifera (Ashwaganda), Glutamine, Ginger (for nausea), Grifola frondossa (mushroom), Folic acid, Aloe Vera, Vitamin A, Astragalus, Black Cohosh and Turmeric. Other supplements which can also be effective for breast cancer support are: Multivitamins, Green Tea, Flavonoids, Aspirin, Fermented wheat germ extract, Genistein, Indole-3-carbinol, Spirulina, Resveratrol, Selenium and Quercetin. Taking these phytochemicals together has been found to be more effective than taking them separately.
Green Tea consumption of at least 3 cups a day has been linked with a reduced risk of occurrence of BrCa. You can also take it in a capsule, the recommended dose is 300mg 2-4 times daily with food as a preventative and 4-6 caps a day with food therapeutically.
Melatonin is a hormone present in our bodies and found in many fruits and vegetables and is derived from the amino acid tryptophan which is converted to serotonin before being changed into melatonin. It is a potent free radical scavenger, promotes a healthy sleep cycle, it is an important immune modulator, decreases estrogen production, is cancer protective and helps regulate our body temperature. There are over 1500 scientific publications and over 88 clinical trials on melatonin and cancer . But, you still cannot buy it in Australia unless you have a prescription from a doctor or naturopath for a compounding chemist while it is freely available in the USA where it is deemed to be very safe. It helps reduce side effects of chemotherapy, improves complete or partial remissions and improves survival rates significantly. One study showed 50% of women with estrogen receptor positive BrCa tumours had much lower melatonin levels at night compared to a control group. Those who had the lowest level of melatonin in their blood had tumours with the highest concentration of estrogen receptors. It is also thought to decrease Aromatase activity which has been found to be more active in breast cancer tissue than in healthy breast tissue. A safe daily dose for treatment during cancer is 20mg a day.
Those high in fruits and vegetables, poultry, fish, low fat dairy and wholegrains which are therefore higher in fiber and lower in saturated fats have been found to lower circulating levels of estrogen.
One Meta-analysis showed an 11% decreased risk of breast cancer with this diet compared to the “unhealthy western diet” (higher in sugar and lower in fibre) with an increased alcohol consumption. Weight gain and/or obesity are thought to be responsible for up to 20% of all cancer cases. Being overweight more than doubles your risk of drying of breast cancer, however being underweight increases your chances of recurrence.
One interesting thing for me is the discovery that soy consumption actually reduces your risk of breast cancer! Just one glass of soy milk a day in one study was found to decrease breast cancer risk by 15%. These results come from 3 large studies of almost 10,000 women taken from the Shanghai Breast Cancer Survival Study, Life After Cancer Epidemiology Study and the Women’s Healthy Eating & Living Study. Just 10mg of soy isoflavones a day (less than ½ cup of soy milk or ¼ cup of tofu) reduced the risk of dying of all causes including breast cancer and of recurrences.
Another interesting bit of information regards alcohol consumption. Many of us enjoy a glass of wine and actually moderate drinking of between 3 -5 drinks a week reduces all cause mortality (the chance of you dying of any disease/cause) while just one drink a day increases your risk from 3% to 3.45% which is not statistically significant BUT drinking more than 3 drinks a day increases your risk by a whopping 30% which is equal to the risk from smoking 1 pack of cigarettes a day!! It also did not depend on what type of alcohol you consumed eg red wine=white wine=beer=liquor was all the same!
But, one of the most important things for you to think about is exercise.
Exercise is super important as it is preventative against breast cancer. Consistent evidence shows that regular physical activity is associated with a 40-60% reduced risk of ALL CANCERS and it improves quality of life for those diagnosed with cancer. Just 2.5 hours a week of moderate intensity has a 25% reduction in breast cancer mortality. Women who walked briskly 2-3 hours a week in the year before being diagnosed with BrCa were 31% less likely to die of the disease than those who were sedentary. And those women who increased their physical activity AFTER diagnosis had a 45% lower risk of death compared to those who were inactive before and after diagnosis.
A combination of diet and exercise has been found to be the most effective
Eating 5-6 serves of vegetables and walking 6 days a week reduced the risk of death by 44% in early stage breast cancer patients.
And finally, SLEEP…Women who sleep less than 6 hours a day had a 62% increased risk of developing breast cancer in a large Japanese study, compared to those who slept 7+ hours a day. Reducing stress is also vital as it will reduce Cortisol levels, blood pressure, inflammatory markers while improving immuno-surveillance, psychological and physical quality of life and reducing depression and the fear of recurrence. The method found to help significantly was mindfulness based stress reduction which includes regular meditation.
I will leave you with this wonderful quote:
“To me, survivorship is very much an attitude, it’s a state of mind. How we interpret the experience of cancer into our lives is fundamental to how we coexist with it. I have learned that hope is forever changing, and healing can come without curing.”
Selma Schimmel, Breast Cancer Survivor
Julie Silver “What helped Me Get Through: Cancer Survivors Share Wisdom and Hope”
Call me at the clinic for links to all the studies mentioned.
AND to win our brand new product ‘Super Food’ by Essential Organics Australia
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Just answer this question…
“What is the most important lifestyle change you can make to reduce your risk of breast cancer?”
The first person to reply with the correct answer will win a free ‘Super Food’ by Essential Organics Australia
PLUS a FREE Naturopathic Health Check valued at $90
Naturopath & Director
Green Door Health